This year marks 60 consecutive years Iowa 80 has been serving the professional driver and traveler. That’s 21,915 days or 525,600 hours of always being open and providing a safe, welcoming place for those needing a break from the road.
In fact, there are no keys to the front door, since the truck stop is always open and the doors have never been locked shut.
The Start of Iowa 80
The Iowa 80 Truckstop began as a small building with six diesel pumps and a 50-seat restaurant on what would become Exit 284 off of Interstate 80 near Walcott, Iowa. Bill Moon located the spot for Standard Oil before the interstate was completed. The oil company built and opened the truck stop, with Moon taking over management a year later, in 1965.
Moon, who the company calls an entrepreneur and founder of the Iowa 80, loved to sit at the counter in the restaurant and talk with drivers. He asked them about their families, their lives, and what they needed while they were on the road.
Moon took those suggestions to heart and started adding amenities to the property. In addition to the Iowa 80 Truckstop, he also founded Truckomat Truck Washes and CAT Scale Company.
Years passed, Interstate 80 was completed and hundreds, then thousands of truckers and travelers stopped by Iowa 80 to fuel, grab a bite to eat, and head on down the road.
In 1984, Standard Oil (now Amoco) decided to sell the facility. Moon, who had been managing the place for nearly 20 years, jumped at the chance. He and his wife Carolyn leveraged everything they had and borrowed money from friends to purchase the Iowa 80.
Once the Moon family owned Iowa 80, they could expand the building and add services as needed.
Today’s Iowa 80 Truckstop
Today, after 32 expansions and remodels, Iowa 80 is overseen by the second generation of the Moon family. It currently serves more than 5,000 customers per day and has well-lit parking spaces for 900 tractor-trailers, 250 cars, and 20 buses.
The Iowa 80 Truckstop now includes a gift store, the Super Truck Showroom, a dentist, a barber shop, a chiropractor, a workout room, laundry facilities, a 60-seat movie theatre, a trucker’s TV lounge, 24 private showers, and many restaurant options, including the Iowa 80 Kitchen, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Einstein Bagels and Caribou Coffee, Blimpie, and Chester’s Chicken.
The truck stop also has a convenience store, a custom embroidery and vinyl shop, 42 BP-branded gas and diesel fueling positions at the main building, 34 high-speed diesel pumps for truckers at the fuel center, a seven-bay truck service center, a three-bay Truckomat truck wash, a CAT Scale, a Dogomat Pet Wash, and the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.
The Iowa 80 Catalog was an early e-commerce adopter, with its website gong online in 2000.
There are even charging stations for electric cars.
Trucking Museum Showcases Antique Trucks and Trucking History
Bill Moon was also an avid collector of antique trucks. He purchased his first antique truck, a 1919 International, from a scrapyard near the Mississippi River in the early 1970s after he overheard a driver lamenting about a scrap yard preparing to crush some old trucks.
The driver believed old trucks should be preserved, and so did Moon.
Moon made it his mission to buy a wide variety of old trucks with the hope that he could open an antique truck museum someday. The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum was opened in 2008 in his memory. It now features more than 100 antique trucks, vintage signs, gas pumps, antique toy trucks, and other trucking memorabilia. The museum is free to the public.
“It is really amazing to have reached this milestone,” said Delia Moon Meier, senior vice president. “We are so fortunate to have such wonderful, dedicated employees and loyal customers.”
Each year in July, the Iowa 80 hosts the Walcott Truckers Jamboree, a three-day event dedicated to celebrating America’s truckers. Last year attendance hit a record 56,000 people.
“Without professional truck drivers, trucks stop. Without trucks, America stops," Meier said. "We appreciate their hard work and the Walcott Truckers Jamboree is our way of saying thank you."